By Valerie Masciarelli,
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With their final games approaching, the Seton Hill University (SHU) Men’s Basketball team members and coaches are quite confident that they will advance to the playoffs this year. After a loss to SHU’s rival, St. Vincent College, the team’s record is 15-6 overall and 8-3 in their division.
�We really wanted to beat St. Vincent,� said Ido Givon, sophomore, �but our goal is the national tournament. That was the goal before the season, and that is the goal now.�
�We made the playoffs last year too, and we lost in the first round,� said Bojan Nikolovski, junior. �Hopefully this year we�ll go further.�
Head Coach Tony Morocco believes that the team has come a long way since last year. �We had an exceptional season last year for the first year of competition,� Morocco said. �We were 18-8, and this year we�re hoping to surpass the 18 wins.�
Several additions have been made to the team since last year. New recruits Serge Poppe, Jose Sanchez, Brandon Chaison, Thomas Faherty, and Nahshon Jackson have all proven themselves in the eyes of Morocco and their teammates. �[They] made great improvements to our program,� Morocco said.
�They�re good guys, and good friends, and very, very, very talented players,� Givon said of the recruits. �I see a very bright future for them here.�
There was also the addition of new Assistant Coaches Joe Gearde and Bernie Matthews, as well as the return of Assistant Coaches Garrett Richards and Jack Loya. �Our assistant coaches have been a major step forward in building the program,� Morocco said.
�[They] add more quality to the program,� said Givon.
�Coach Morocco has had a great influence on me,� said Shawn Ranieri, volunteer coach, who said he had previous coaching experience at both Penn State Beaver and Fayette. �It’s an honor to be coaching here,� said Ranieri.
Returning players included Givon, Nikolovski, Eric Wood, Ryan Davis, Clark Witucki, Naor Amiel, Eric Jackson, Zarko Kostic, Dimitar Simovski, Daniel George, Danley Marshall, Lou Peglow, Olanrewaju Kayode, and Vuk Ivanovic. They appear to be pleased with the progress they have been making.
�I worked hard this summer to improve like the rest of the guys,� said Givon, �and we all got better. We know each other better, and we know the system that we run better. Everything just went a notch up.�
�I think we are much quicker, and the defense is much better,� said Nikolovski, �I think we deserve to go [to the playoffs].�
�Our team has matured overall a tremendous amount,� said Zarko Kostic, junior. �Last year was the first year for all of us, and we weren’tsure what to expect. This year, we all knew what we were coming into, and I think that helped us in being more prepared overall,� said Kostic.
Morocco feels that even more improvement is in store because of the availability of the new recreation center. �The new building is going to be a major improvement because we�ll have a place to practice at the same time every day,� Morocco said. Until then, the team members declare they will continue to give it their all.
�The team is doing its best,� Givon said. �I guess we need more hard work, and a little bit more luck.�
�The games we lost were very close,� said Kostic, �and with some adjustments, I think we have a great chance at winning the whole thing and going to nationals. Everyone has great hope, and that is just what we need.�
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By Valerie Masciarelli,